The brain and aging

by | February 12, 2019 | Diet and Nutrition, Fitness, Health, Sleep

“I’m so old, I’m losing my edge”
 
“You want me to do what? Do you know how old I am?”
 
“I can’t do that, my old brain just can’t process it”
 
Some of the common things we hear from our clients in the gym. 
 
But, are these changes to the brain inevitable? 
 
Or
 
Can you do something about it? 
 
This article will explore the effect of aging on the brain, 
 
And what you can do to counteract its effects.
 
Your brain is the most powerful tool you have,
 
It controls your movement,
 
It controls your conversations, 
 
It controls your emotions, 
 
Damn, it even controls your heart rate and digestion. 
 
So, you need to take care of it. 
 
The truth is that aging does muck things up a little bit, 
 
But you can fight back against it. 
 
This article will explore how.
 
 

The effects of aging on the brain

One of the biggest issues with aging and the brain is dementia. 
 
Dementia is a progressive decline in cognitive function that affects the daily lives of those affected. 
 
Symptoms can include memory loss, 
 
Changes in behaviour and mood, 
 
Judgment and reasoning difficulties, 
 
And decreased communication abilities. 
 
It currently affects 7% of people over 65 in Canada. 
 
The largest risk factor for dementia is age. 
 
But, taking care of your body and brain can help mitigate its effects. 
 
The brain needs a few things to be healthy. 
 
These include:
 
-good blood flow
 
-controlled inflammation
 
-healthy blood sugars
 
-control of excess iron build-up
 
-a balance of healthy fats
 
-neuroprotection against injury, oxidative stress and degradation
 
So, how do you tackle some of these things? 
 
 

Nutrition strategies for brain health

The brain uses a lot of energy. 
 
When you compare its three-pound mass to the rest of your body, it is pretty greedy with your Calories, 
 
Taking in about 20% of those total Calories. 
 
But, what constitutes those Calories can be pivotal in determining your brain health. 
 
Here are a few things you can do to help keep your brain healthy as you age. 
 
1. Keep a healthy body fat range
 
This helps contribute to the proper functioning of your body’s systems and to your metabolic health.
 
 
getting enough sleep,  
 
 
and exercising often will help keep your body fat at a healthy level appropriate for your age. 
 
2. Decrease inflammatory foods, increase anti-inflammatory foods
 
This is a foundational health strategy that will not only keep your body functioning well, 
 
it will help keep your brain healthy too. 
 
The ticket here is to eat more whole foods like fruits, 
 
Vegetables, 
 
Seeds, 
 
Nuts, 
 
Fish, 
 
Whole grains, 
 
And starchy tubers like sweet potatoes. 
 
You can also try anti-inflammatory supplements like 
 
Omega-3 oil, 
 
turmeric/curcumin/ginger, 
 
bromelain and papain
 
And/or MSM. 
 
3. Control blood sugar 
 
Healthy blood sugars can improve the production of chemical messengers, 
 
As well as ATP production in your brain. 
 
These two things affect brain cell firing. 
 
To control blood sugars, 
 
Keep a healthy body fat level, 
 
Eat regularly-spaced meals, 
 
Eat slow-digesting high-performance carbs, 
 
Eat your veggies, 
 
And exercise often. 
 
You can also try a natural blood sugar regulator formulation with cinnamon and/or berberine. 
 
4. Balance healthy fats
 
An ideal balance of healthy fats is 1/3 polyunsaturated, 
 
1/3 monounsaturated
 
And 1/3 saturated. 
 
Check out this article to learn more about healthy fats and where to get each type. 
 
One of the healthiest fats of them all, Omega-3 fats is a godsend when it comes to brain health. 
 
Omega-3 fats can make the cells in your body more sensitive to insulin, 
 
thus improving blood sugars. 
 
Omega-3 fats can also make the brain cells more sensitive to chemicals that can help prevent age-related losses in cognitive function. 
 
Finally, eat less industrial oils. 
 
These can include sunflower oil, corn oil, soybean oil, safflower oil and cottonseed oil. 
 
5. Eat more flavonoids and antioxidants
 
Free radicals floating around in the body and brain can be injurious to brain cells. 
 
You can protect your brain from this damage by taking in a healthy dose of flavonoids and anti-oxidants. 
 
How about….
 
Some dark chocolate for dessert? 
 
Some garlic and onion in your stews? 
 
Some leafy greens in a salad? 
 
Some colourful fruits in your oatmeal? 
 
Or some colourful veggies with hummus dip? 
 
Yep..these are all rich in flavonoids and anti-oxidants. 
 
 

Other lifestyle strategies for brain health

1. Move more
 
Healthy bodies move more, 
 
And healthy brains need bodies that move more. 
 
It not only keeps your mind stimulated and busy, 
 
But it helps with blood flow to the brain. 
 
2. Stay sharp
 
Read books, 
 
Read articles, 
 
Talk with people, 
 
Do puzzles, 
 
Do crosswords, 
 
Do sudokus, 
 
Do word-finds, 
 
Play solitaire.
 
Just keep your mind active. 
 
This is also another essential component in preventing age-related losses in memory and cognition 
 
3. Don’t be a loner 
 
We’re social creatures. 
 
We need some form of human interaction. 
 
Some people struggle to maintain contact with the outside world with age. 
 
They lose those rich- and meaningful personal relationships that make life fun.   
 
This sucks. 
 
Don’t do that. 
 
Maintain friendships, 
 
Join meet-up groups, 
 
Have a weekly Fun Friday with your crew. 
 
Don’t be that bitter, old person sitting on your front deck that everyone is afraid of. 
 
 

Wrap-up

Aging is inevitable. 
 
And some of it can suck. 
 
But, a lot of the side effects of aging can be mitigated with the use of good health practices into older adult life. 
 
And here’s another thing…keep a healthy perspective.  
 
We talked briefly about the role of stress in your health. 
 
Are you seeing your aging as a source of stress and emotional turmoil? 
 
Or is it something great? 
 
Perspective is everything when it comes to stress. 
 
So, do you see aging as a vehicle bringing you closer to death? 
 
Or is it an opportunity to collect wisdom and insight into life? 
 
Is it a stomping ground for injuries and decreased function? 
 
Or is it a chance to develop deeper relationships with some great people. 
 
Aging can be a beautiful thing, 
 
Just create a rock-star vessel to assist you along the way. 
 

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